COUNTY residents are being urged not to panic if they see a young grey seal on a beach.
In the next few weeks, a number of the animals will visit the Northumberland coast to give birth to their pups and after a month or so the pups head off to sea to prepare to live an independent life.
Some will turn up on beaches along the coastline as they learn to swim and feed, with their mother usually not too far away.
But as this is perfectly normal, Northumberland Wildlife Trust (NWT) is urging members of the public who spot them to simply leave them alone.
The biggest risk they face is from disturbance so owners are asked to ensure that any dogs are kept under control and away from any young seals.
The wildlife charity is also asking for help from anyone who may come across a dead seal during a visit to the coast.
It is working with three other organisations to investigate the cause of these deaths. Sometimes the reason can be determined by photographs rather than an expensive autopsy.
Head of Conservation Steve Lowe said: “Northumberland is lucky to host such an important breeding population of these animals, a feature that attracts many tourists to the area.
“This sounds like a particularly grisly project, but we think it is an extremely valuable approach that visitors to the coast can help with.
“The trust receives random reports of dead seals from the public, but we hope this will increase reporting rates and help to establish what factors have the greatest impact upon seal numbers.”
Should anybody find a dead seal, they are asked to contact Mr Lowe on 0191 284 6884 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the exact location and, if possible, a digital photo of the animal.